The Hometown Gets Some Love
Sheboygan goes from punch line to dateline this week as the PGA Championship comes to Whistling Straits.
Technically, Herbert Kohler's green cathedral is in Haven, just north of my hometown along County Highway LS (it's not in Kohler, as many believe) but it's close enough for rock and roll and for a town that certainly could use some positive pub.
We'll see breathtaking views of manicured greens contrasting against the sky blue waters of Lake Michigan. Maybe the network boys will take a camera or two into Sheboygan itself. There's stuff to see and do there. Honest.
Trouble is, you wouldn't know it, judging from the news that's been coming out of there the past year. Sheboygan used to be known as the Bratwurst Capitol of the World.
Now, it's leading export seems to be unsavory, icky, or just plain weird news stories.
We've had the tragic (the mini-mart accident in which an attendant was run over by a customer driving from the passenger seat), the pathetic (Mayor Bob Ryan's fall from grace which included drunken video of Hizzoner broaching the subject of a female relatives bedroom skills) and the sordid (the same Mayor being targeted for sex harassment by a city employee). If memory serves, most if not all of these stories played out within the past year or so.
Those are just the three that come to mind. I've forgotten the others as they seemed to form an endless conga line, not unlike clowns pouring out of a Volkswagen. All from a town that used to to the backstroke in an ocean of relative obscurity.
At least, that's how Sheboygan seemed to be when I was growing up there. It was a truly big deal if our town made the TV news in either Milwaukee or Green Bay (we didn't have our own station, so we had to look elsewhere). Kohler Company would get an occasional mention on a game show when some lucky contestant won bathroom fixtures as a consolation prize. Road America would earn a sports headline or two and there was almost always the occasional Paul Newman sighting when he'd head out to eat after spinning a few laps at Elkhart Lake.
I don't know when tranquil left She-Vegas and when weird became a permanent squatter, but it's nice to see that that the strange will be replaced by the wonderful starting Thursday.
The world's best golfers tackle one of the country's more incredible courses. Thousands will bus to an otherwise quiet spot on the lakefront (Haven's biggest calling card before this was the annual Coon Roast put on by a local men's group of which one of my high school gym teachers was a proud member). Locals will rent their homes out to complete strangers, mom and dad diners will forever have stories about which golfers ate in what booth (and how much they tipped). Herb Kohler, Whistling Straits and the Sheboygan area will put on a fabulous show.
The center of the golfing universe is Sheboygan, starting Thursday. The snickers stop, at least through Sunday when the next PGA Champion is crowned.
Enjoy your time in the sun, Sheboygan. If any town deserves it, you do.